Archive for May, 2012


Posted in ride reports, Uncategorized with tags , on May 21, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I could have also titled this post THE WORST RACE PERFORMANCE OF MY LIFE or I HAVE NEVER WANTED A RACE TO END SO BADLY or REASONS WHY I SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN BED INSTEAD OF RACING.  Needless to say, it was not my finest hour(s).

The days leading up to the race I was feeling pretty good about my chances.  I had dropped a lot of unexpected weight (see Ulsers post) and had been able to get in a few solid high power rides on my road bike.  So my chances of posting a strong result should have been very high.  Except that sometimes things don’t quite work out.

The race started with a mass start by the Lake Howard boat docks and then immediately hit the singletrack.  As to be expected, the singletrack section became just a long train of riders and since I had started near the back row of racers at the boat docks I was in the back quarter of the riders.  Some slower riders in front of me kept the pace down until we broke from the singletrack after just a couple of miles.  I quickly passed a few folks going across the grass dam and then bridged up to the next group of riders.

The next nine or ten miles were spent on dirt and gravel roads leading to the first aid station.  Stopping only to refill a water bottle and down a gel, I then started the long uphill start of the Alabama Skyway.  The best way to describe most of the Skyway portion of the race is to picture the Red Road at Oak Mountain State Park…..only instead of 5 miles long it is around 14 miles long.  And you have to turn around and do it the other direction.  And it has virtually no flats on which to recover.  And, though I’m not sure if it is physically possible, it is uphill both ways.  Really.  It was that brutal.

Around 18 miles into the race, my usual leg cramps started to arise.  But with the help of some S-cap pills I was able to keep them somewhat in check for the near future….the key for me is also to always keep pedaling, because as soon as I stop and stretch a leg straight it wants to lock up.  But also around mile 18, a more unfortunate physical discomfort would arise: gastric distress.  My stomach was beginning to churn around in knots and I thought on several occasions that I was either getting ready to vomit or to have diarrhea.  I actually might have been prepared for either, as I stuffed a few paper towels into my Camelbak.  Luckily neither case would come to light, but I had a serious problem as it kept me from being able to ingest any calories or even drink much water.  I had heard horror stories about people suffering from gastric distress during endurance races, but until now I had been very lucky to never know what it was like.

After a nice, long, high speed descent, I hit the turnaround point with a respectable time and looked to be on pace for finishing in around 5:15 to 5:20.  I swapped out for some partially frozen EFS bottles from my drop bag and ate a few Lay’s potato chips, then turned around and headed uphill.  Being an out-and-back, I was able to see everyone I was ahead of and where they were on the course.  I also noticed that already we had some race drop-outs.  The heat, combined with the unexpectedly rough trail conditions and never ending climbing, undoubtedly caused some folks to call it a day.

As I mentioned before, somehow going in reverse this trail was also uphill.  Literally, it was as if the Earth tilted slightly so that it could somehow be uphill both directions.

Although no longer in pain, my stomach was just plain upset and still did not want any EFS, gel, or water in its system.  Lack of nutrition brought on more leg cramps, but once again I was able to work through them for the remainder of the Skyway trail by keeping my pace down.

I caught up with a couple of riders at the aid station near the bottom of the Skyway trail and then began the long series of rolling dirt and gravel roads back to the Lake Howard trails.  These roads drug on for much longer than I remembered from the start of the race, and I began encountering several other riders suffering through similar cramping issues.  After the long series of roads, we would take an alternate section of singletrack back to the race finish.  This would add almost 7 more miles of singletrack as opposed to what we started on.

I was already beginning to really feel the effects of a major calorie deficit and dehydration when slugging along on the seemingly endless roads, only to really hit a wall once I made it onto the singletrack.  After a very short trail section, the route had us traverse across a long grass straightway that was chock full of little dips and bumps.  Basically it felt like riding horseback for 1/3 of a mile, which in turn felt really bad on my stomach.  Instead of trying to gun it, I had to really throttle it back to a crawling pace to keep from getting seasick.  At the end of this grass section, there as big dirt mound blocking the trail so I had to walk around it in the adjacent woods.  This is when my leg cramping came to a pinnacle, locking up both legs as I tried to stand up.  My lower quads were so tight that I had a hard time walking since I could not bend them back.  And then when I tried to force myself into a squat in order to stretch the quads, my hamstrings would lock up.  I realized that the best thing for me to do was to get back on my bike and pedal….the act of keeping both legs moving while never straightening out was the only way to reduce the cramping.  I had not cramped this bad since Big Frog in 2011, which was one of my all time lows.

The next 6 or so miles for me was somewhat of a blur.  And not because I was going fast, but rather because I was beginning to bonk and was literally not completely with it mentally.  I was in a semi state of delirium, pedaling about as slowly as I could and wishing this race was over already.  I have never wished for any race or ride, or perhaps any other physical activity in my life, to be over as badly as I wished for this one to end.  Folks were passing me that should not have been.  And I know this because I have beaten some of those people in other races before.  But the truth is, I just didn’t care anymore.

Finally the end was in sight and I had some nice rolling singletrack with smooth descents back to the finish line.  I rolled through in around 6:04, substantially off the pace I had set for myself by the turnaround point.  But at least it was over.

The Skyway Epic race was a very well put-together event.  My hats off to Brent Marshall and the others who helped organize it.  And also to COGS, who built and maintained the great network of Lake Howard trails.  While I am in some pain today still, I feel certain that I will be back to do it again….though hopefully next time without the gastric distress.

Nutrition notes: during my six hours of riding, I consumed around 40 ounces of water, 48 ounces of lightly-mixed EFS drink (maybe around 320 total calories), a few potato chips (150 calories), and four gels (400 calories).  Not near enough of anything, as evidenced by both my dehydration and my calorie hole.  Even after consuming two more bottles of water post-race while driving and another few glasses of water at home, I still didn’t have to pee until dinner time (and I never peed during the race).  Even today my urine is rust orange in color.  And to add insult to injury, I forgot to pick up the two water bottles that I put back in my drop bag while on the course….two of my favorite water bottles that I will never see again.  Luckily, I think my stomach issues were just bad luck/timing and not the result of my stomach acid or ulsers since I never had any true nausea.  So, the Prevacid must be working.


freakin’ Ulsers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 18, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

So maybe my sickness on the night before Big Frog 65 wasn’t all food poisoning….been getting nausea spells pretty much every day since that weekend.  It usually comes on around late morning and gets so bad I have a hard time eating much of anything for lunch.  It also drains my energy fairly severely, which has led to not near enough training for this weekend’s +/- 60-mile Skyway Epic race.

After two visits to my doctor and a separate trip to get an ultrasound and an upper GI test, it looks like the culprit is the early onset of stomach ulcers.  Apparently acid has been building in my stomach so fast that it is causing the rapid nausea, along with the resulting fatigue from not being able to eat enough calories.  But the positive side to all of that is that it has quickly dropped me from 187 pounds down to 180 pounds, which is the lightest I have been since probably my sophomore year of college in 1992 or 1993.  The reduced weight should make up for some of the lost training time when I am hitting the major climbs in the Skyway Epic.  And hopefully the Prevacid I was prescribed will clear things up in the next couple of months.

But not all training has been lost….been feeling pretty good this week, though I have taken the last two days off.  Was able to get in rides on Saturday (road, 30 miles), Monday morning (road, 13), Tuesday morning (road, 13), Wednesday morning (mountain, 8), and Wednesday afternoon (road, 17).  Wednesday’s road ride followed the weekly Time Trial route so it had me pushing pretty hard.  Overall I was pretty happy with the results.

For the rest of the 41 Flyers – who’s in for Fool’s Gold on September 8th?  I believe that would be the weekend after Labor Day.  We should all go up there and rent a cabin somewhere.

I did get some good news this week….a jersey design that I did for the IMBA World Summit got selected as one of two winners, which means that it will become an official IMBA jersey and will be available for sale this summer.  The jersey had to do two things: 1) incorporate the World Summit logo, which I thought could have been greatly improved upon, and 2) incorporate some sort of reference to the host site, which this year is New Mexico.  Hence the background of snakeskin from a Western Diamondback Rattler.  My prize for winning: a free jersey and a pair of socks.  Can’t say I can complain, because jerseys ain’t cheap.  And it will come from Primal Wear, so the quality will be top notch.  Should have it in my hands sometime in August.  Below is the winning design, along with two others that I did before settling on the snakeskin.